Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Bread machine recommendations and advice

Reader Debbie wrote to me requesting a post about bread machines! :)

I want to get one, but don't know what the good points and bad points are, and it sounds like lots of ladies on you site use them. I would make bread more often if I didn't have to take the time to fuss with it so much.

Debbie, thanks for the great topic suggestion! :) I haven't had extensive experience with bread machines, so hopefully there will be some folks willing to comment with more information, as well! :)

My mom always made her bread by hand, so when -- a few months after we were married -- Joshua suggested getting me a bread machine, I told him I really had no use for such a thing! I am generally not inclined to acquire new "gadgets" and I couldn't imagine a bread machine being useful enough to warrant storing something so huge! :)

However, not long after, we were visiting some friends, and the lady was making bread. She pulled the loveliest dough out of her bread machine and placed it in a greased pan to rise. I had no idea that bread machines could be used to knead the dough (without baking it, as well) and I realized that a bread machine could save hours of kneading time, if nothing else! :)

My first bread machine was an older Toastmaster model from a garage sale. We weren't really thrilled with the baked loaves -- I couldn't seem to figure out how to get them to be light or fluffy enough. So I ended up using it just for kneading the dough -- which worked out fine, since we liked to have pizza, challah, or other breads that can't be baked in a bread machine, anyway.

My mom, hearing me talk about enjoying using my bread machine, bought one herself, second-hand (but never used) from a newspaper ad. It was also a Toastmaster machine, and made fabulous bread! The bread was so fluffy, and just perfect! I think my mom made about one loaf of bread every day in it -- I remember going over for dinner and everyone just devoured the delicious, fresh, hot bread!

In the meantime, my bread machine pan wore out, and with it being an older model, we decided it would be cheaper to just buy a new Sunbeam brand bread machine than to replace the old pan. I read reviews online, and it seemed that some people loved the Sunbeam brand, and others didn't. Well, I tried baking bread in mine, and we just weren't satisfied with the results. (Thick crust, dark top, not risen high enough, etc.) Since my bread turns out great when I bake it in my oven, I just decided to go with that route. I do use my bread machine frequently, for mixing up pizza dough, bagel dough, bread, challah, sweet rolls, dinner rolls, etc. I would really miss not having it!

However, I know there are other options if you want something that will just knead the dough for you. Maybe some of my readers could enlighten me as to exactly what those things are. (KitchenAid dough hook? Bosch? What do all these things do?!)

Anyway, back to the story about my mom's bread machine. Hers eventually wore out. I'm not sure how long it lasted... maybe a year or so. It was very well-used by the time it wore out. Similar models were rather pricey at $80 or more (she had paid $25) so she bought a Sunbeam bread machine, like I had.

However, her always-perfect bread didn't turn out so good. She tried many times to adjust her recipe, settings, etc. to figure out what the problem was. (Having hot, fresh, perfect homemade bread come out of a machine is worth some work of adjusting, right?! :D) After many tries, I think she just gave up on getting that machine to bake loaves like her old one had.

Because of the great success my mom had with her former Toastmaster machine, and all of the tweaking she did to try to make the Sunbeam machine function as well, I really believe that the Sunbeam bread machine is inferior, and I wouldn't recommend getting one if you plan to bake the bread in it. 

Edited in 2010 to add: I now have a Zojirushi bread machine and it's wonderful! I wrote an extensive review which can be found here.

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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants

1. Shirley (Highly Recommended)
2. Frosting tip
3. Trixie @ Farm Home Life (clutter)
4. Mrs. S. (using up vegetables)
5. *Michigan Momma*
6. Erika (funnel cakes)

Comments

I bought my West Bend bread machine at a thrift shop for $4. I don't use it daily, but do use it a lot in the winter time. It's wonderful for kneading the dough, but I don't like to bake bread in mine, either. Mine also has a delay feature so I can put the ingredients in before hand and set it to start either 3, 6 or 9 hours later. I use this feature to wake up to finished, risen cinnamon roll dough! It's also nice since I work outside the home, I can come home to already made dough and have fresh bread with supper on a weeknight!

Hi Tammy!

I mostly use the bread machine I have now for mixing dough because I don't like the way the bread comes out when I let the machine do the baking. Oddly, we used to have a Toastmaster bread machine too, and it made absolutely wonderful bread until the bread pan developed leaking problems. We were able to get a replacement pan, but the same thing happened to that pan within a few months. In the years since then, we have bought several different brands of bread machines, and I have never been pleased with the bread when it is baked. I do however love the convenience of using the bread machine to mix the dough! I guess I need to look around for another Toastmaster...

Shirley

I have a breadman ultimate. We did pay almost full price for it (20% Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon was used), but I've been using bread machines for years so we already felt that it was worth the expense. Before this I've owned Osters and was happy with all 3 of them (2 were re-gifted as I got the larger ones and the 3rd died after many years of use). It's hard finding bread machines anymore, they used to be easy to find. :(

I am unable to knead dough (carpal tunnel - it really makes kneading painful) and I use the bread machine to do that for me. I do have a kitchen aid, but quite honestly I think the ABM does a better job and it's easier (the dough will sometimes crawl up the hook which is a pain) although I can do larger amounts of dough using my KA. I also love the fact that the ABM has the perfect rising environment too. When I worked it was great to be able to come home to risen pizza dough ready to be topped and baked.

Now that summer is almost at an end, I'll be baking more loaves in the oven, but during the heat of the summer (It's humid here too usually) it's nice to be able to make bread for my husband's lunches and not totally heat up the house.

I also have a food processor, and I still like using my ABM for bread doughs. Now pie crust is another matter. ;) (I am of the warm hands people - making pie dough is frustrating by hand for me.) I am lucky that I worked in a housewares store and was able to get my appliances at a discount, but I feel they are worth the money that I've spent on them.

I have a Bosch and a KitchenAide. I really think the KitchenAide makes the better bread, but the Bosch is more powerful and can handle more dough. They both are good. After having these machines a while, I found a bread machine at a thrift store for $5. I think it was a WestBend, but I'm not sure. The machine did not do such a hot job, so I gave it away. I rather like the mixers better. :-D

In Christ,

Ginny

I never wanted one, but my MIL gave me a Hitachi and it has been nice. It is nice on busy days to put soup in the crockpot and bread in the bread machine and have dinner ready when I come home. it bakes okay in the machine, although it overbakes it a bit, so I do like to use the dough at times.

I have tried bread machines 2-3 times over the years and never really got into habit of using it. Just didn't seem worth the trouble. I can knead up pizza dough or anything similiar in just a few minutes. For larger batches I use the dough hook on my mixer (which cost $2 at a thrift store) Thats what works for me!

Thanks for all the great input, everyone!! :)

Shirley, that sounds just like my mom's experience...  with the leaking pan.

My mom has carpal tunnel, so she uses the bread machine to knead the bread, or (if she's making several loaves) has my younger sisters (who still live at home) knead it for her. I don't mind kneading bead, but I think every time I use the bread machine to knead the dough, it saves me at least 20 minutes! :)

We are lucky enough to have a Bosch mixer with nearly all of the attachments. It was a gift from my aunt. There really isn't anything better out there for mixing, chopping (food processor), or blending (blender). They are pricey and its definitely an investment, but my aunt's set was used heavily for 30 years and runs like it was bought yesterday. Here is a link to a review I wrote about the Bosch mixer if anyone is interested in learning more. 

Stacy

Thanks for the inspiration! I made my first bread machiene-less loaf last night and it was perfect. I too have a Sunbeam and have been so disapointed with it. Sometimes, the loafs come out just fine, but other times, they look half the size they're supposed to be and gummy.
I had always thought there was some huge mystery behind homemade bread and was almost afraid to try it, but am now pleased to say that I feel confident. I made a loaf of the Amish White Bread from this site and today will try to let the machine do half the work for me. : )
Just wanted to say thanks for all this bread talk because you "made" me do it.

Donna Sue

Hi Tammy,
I use my bread machine at least once a day sometime twice to knead my doughs. I can't knead by hand. I do take my dough out to shape it and bake in the oven.
I love my machine.
Also Krogers is having a wonderful sale and there was great coupons in Sundays paper. Crystal At BW got some really good deals and so did I. I brought 376 and paid 200. Then today I went back and got Organic Tyson Whole Chickens for 59 cent a pound.
I posted my shopping trip on my blog. Alos I post on my blog what I have been making in my bread machine.
Stop by for a visit sometimes
www.elizabethsclothesline.blogspot.com
Blessings,
Elizabeth

I also have a Bosch and love it! I have been told the Kitchen Aid is nicer for cookies, etc., but I use my Bosch for everything. It kneads very well, although I have started to hand knead for a minute before I shape the loaves. I don't know that it really makes a difference, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something!

I had a bread maker several years ago that I loved. (It is no longer manufactured.) Unfortunately, the little knead hook at the bottom ended up in the disposal, and the replacement never worked well. I also lost the recipe booklet that came with the machine. Those recipes definitely worked the best in that machine! I could never get other recipes to rise right--they would either under-rise or over-rise. I miss having it especially when I don't have time to make bread or if I'm going somewhere. The bread machine would handle the rising and baking so I didn't have to be there. I'm a homeschooler, so both of those issues are big deals!

I got my bread machine at Salvation Army for $6. There are usually lots there, so you can try one to see if it's for you on the cheap!
I posted about my bread machine earlier this year:
http://milehimama.blogspot.com/2007/01/works-for-me-wednesday-bread-machines.html

Lately, we've been making raisin bread in it. I start it right before lunch, and it's ready by snacktime when the babies get up from their nap. Hot, fresh, delicious, and nutritious! Plus I don't have to make an elaborate snack!

I've been wanting to make extra to freeze or let get stale for French Toast... but there's never any left LOL

BTW, it is a lifesaver here in the South - I rarely turn on my oven all summer because it is too hot but the breadmaker doesn't heat up the kitchen - or I could even plug it in outside.

I had a machine, purchased new, and really enjoyed it...for a while. Then I tried my hand at home-made bread, baked in the oven, and it just couldn't compare! I gifted my machine to another family at church, and made bread by hand for a while.

Then I discovered the Bosch. I bought one, along with a Nutrimill. I use my mill and Bosch to make 6 loaves of bread a couple of times a week. I can have six loaves done in a little more than an hour and a half.

I use the Bosch just like a bread machine for dough lots of time. We make pizza crust, breadsticks and other goodies as well as bread. I mix up our biscuits, meatloaf and other goodies also.
It's wonderful! I wouldn't go back.

Momma

Milehimama -- good point about the bread machine making less heat in the summer! :) When I tried baking in mine, I had it out on our enclosed porch, and it kept the heat out of the kitchen, which is great for summer. :)

I still have mine on the porch, because that way the noise of it kneading (even though it's not really noisy or anything) isn't in the kitchen. I'm really particular about noise! We have our blender on the porch, too. Neither Joshua or I like noisy appliances in the background. We used to live in a house with the washer in the kitchen, and it was so noisy!! Now ours is in the basement, and it's nice and quiet. :)

By the way, thanks, everyone, for the continued input about bread machines!! :D

I have an older Sunbeam, it's a "Country Bakehouse", and the only bread recipe I have been able to successfully bake is your whole wheat recipe, Tammy! And only with all whole wheat flour too (well I use "wholemeal" here in Australia, don't know if there's a difference). So there you go! I did have to put most of an extra cup of water in though, and all the "bread conditioners" you recommended.
I would like to learn how to just use it for kneading though, but the few times I have tried it is a real pain to get the dough out of, it sticks to the sides and/or bottom. What guidelines do you use for using it for kneading and/or rising?

Sue.

Hi Sue!

My bread machine has a dough setting, which includes 30 min (approx) of kneading and then it warms the inside and lets it rise for an hour and beeps when it's done.

I also sometimes (like for pizza crust) let it knead for 30 minutes (or even less) and then take the dough out and press it into the pans, turning off the machine early.

I watch the dough as it is kneading and add more flour if necessary, so it's not too sticky -- especially for loaves I am going to take out and form by hand (unlike pizza dough, which can be sticky).

My bread machine has a non-stick interior, as well... does yours?

So glad the wheat bread recipe is working out for you!! :D

Thanks for your reply, Tammy. Yes mine has a non-stick interior too, perhaps I need to add more flour sometimes. I'm not very consistent when it comes to baking so I never remember what works the best!

I did make a batch of your pizza dough recipe in it bout a week ago and it was great, I didn't intend to leave it but accidentally did, it rose and it came out easily.

I even used it a few days ago to knead your foolproof pie pastry but I think I left it too long and it made it a bit dense or something - I could tap on it after baking and it was quite hard! Still yummy, and thankfully I'd rolled it quite thin so it tasted fine with the juices from the pie. Is there a trick to make pastry dough fluffier?

Oh, my! Pie dough in a bread machine?! That is kind of a no-no, since while wheat breads thrive on a good knead (which develops the gluten), pie pastry needs as little kneading as possible to make it tender and flakey! :) I would suggest doing pie dough by hand... or else perhaps pulsing in a food processor, but only enough to mix -- just until ingredients are combined. :)

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